BU “National organization of retail trade” (NORT) is a member of the Coalition of civil organizations. Six months ago, CIPE passed administration of the”National SME platform” web portal to NORT. During this period a lot was done, but, as it often happens, time runs fast, many tasks come up, and no time to talk. During May holidays we managed to find a moment and ask a few questions to Yuriy Bondarev, the Head of BU “NORT”.
Yuriy, tell us about BU “National organization of retail trade.”
To begin with, what BU “North” is? This is not just a union of retailers, it is a platform supporting representatives of a large industry that provides many jobs to Ukrainians. Perhaps, you noticed stickers on retail facilities saying that “NORT” is against pressure on retail trade. This is the faith of the Union.
Speaking about the mission and objectives, they are – to protect legitimate rights and interests of the industry, to build an open, constructive and effective dialogue between small business representatives and bodies of state administration, as well as to participate in forming public policy in entrepreneurship and promoting small business development. “NORT” helps and organizes consulting support for its members, and more. Since being founded the Union united many experts from different business areas. This helps us to effectively communicate with entrepreneurs.
What is special about BU “NORT” activities?
I would not point to one special thing. On the one hand, the name of the union speaks about the specificity of its work. On the other hand, we have already reached the wider range of business issues solving than planned when creating the Union. Our first task – interaction with legislative and executive branches. “NORT” members are interested in working honestly and paying taxes, that’s why we strive for a normal working relations with fiscal and regulatory authorities, for the legislation not to have double standards, for one document not to have another contradicting one. BU “NORT” is ready to actively participate in all initiatives aiming to improve communication between retailers and the state.
Another important work element was establishment of relations between retailers and suppliers of goods. And then “NORT” becames a kind of an organizer of purchasing groups, which allows Union members to save on purchases. An important part of our work was establishing smooth-running cooperation with other business unions and leaders.
Do you remember what the Union was before your appointment? What is it now?
I have never thought of it till now, to be honest (laughs). It seems like every head of a public association, I have been setting relevant goals and prescribing steps, I do my best to follow. When there is a clear understanding of why you do something, then the job does not stop. There are issues that you need to pay more attention and time to, and other issue being solved automatically. This is fine, business and social activities are arranged this way. I can mention that in my work I pay a lot of attention to the consulting issue aiming to develop our members’ business. I have been a part of an international commercial structure for years, so I have considerable experience in these matters.
Why is BU «NORT» useful for entrepreneurs?
There are a lot of advantages for union members, but we work for development of the whole small businesses sector. Yes, most of our members deal with excisable goods, which means use PPO in their activities. Thus, the question of PPO is not a question “NORT” should take care of. But we understand that adopting legal act that will oblige all members today to use PPO SMEs will have a negative impact on business. So we advocate better decisions in such matters, necessity to look for in transition options, use of new technologies (cloud fiscalization) and others.
«NORT» conducts educating seminars, webinars and meetings with businessmen becoming a good theoretical basis for business owners or beginners. On FB page of the Union you can follow our activities.
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Do you arrange SME market researches? Which ones if yes?
Unless you arrange market researches and analysis you cannot speak of anything further in business. Sometimes we are asked to conduct a research on certain issues, sometimes we are the initiators. Yes, now the question of a possible closing up of shop-windows with tobacco products (draft 4030-a) is enormous. We are for a healthy lifestyle. But there is reality that there are smokers in Ukraine, and nothing good will come of methods some organizations offer to use for fighting with smoking.
I think it is more important now to carry out preventive measures in schools, to create conditions for people not to smoke in public places rather than hide the goods, putting price lists with such a small print that dandruff will not help much… So our association organized researches, how consumers will react on hiding tobacco products from shop-windows – we were interviewing, arranging public opinion poll as to buying goods from entrepreneurs whose shop-windows were closed for a trial… For example, during researches figures showed that with the fall tobacco sales, volumes of sold coffee and other goods decreased as well.
What are the questions people turn to the Union with?
Many, and they are multidirectional. They call on buyers’ and sellers’ rights, on
communication etiquette of workers in market places, there are questions about quality of services. Sometimes we get requests from small enterprises to help to protect business from harassment.
Once we got a call from a German tourist asking about the availability of free printed products in the tourist information centers of the city. We investigated the issue and it was partly solved. And interesting ideas came up as to the development of tourism and cultural recreation traditions.
Late April «NORT» founded the Local History Club “Vytoky” together with the Department of Geography and Tourism of Kyiv National University by the name of Taras Shevchenko, CC “Ukrainian Association of Guides” (UAG) and «Yuniversum-2000″, the owner of a network of tourist-informational centers in Kiev.
One of the first Club projects was the «Free tour». This system has long been known in the West, and a pilot project launched in Kiev at the end of April. So, on the occasion of the Eurovision-2017 and the Day of Kyiv, every weekend from 29 April to 28 May 2017 the best students of the Geography and Tourism Department of the Kyiv National University by the name of Taras Shevchenko are carrying out free sightseeing tours to historical places of Kyiv in Ukrainian and English.
Now small and medium business in Ukraine are not in the best conditions for development, what would you advise entrepreneurs to concentrate on?
Unfortunately, the situation is indeed disappointing. Almost daily we confront something new in the field of legislation as to business activities. Thus, raising minimal wages caused a handful of issues, especially as to the penalty rates. I am often asked: what is next? Now it is time when businesses need to unite, especially small businesses. A clear and influential position is required, so that it is reckoned and its rights not neglected.
«NORT» is known as an administrator of “National SME platform” web portal. Can you comment on this synergy?
On January, 19 2017 the Center for International Private Enterprise (CIPE) passed Website “National SME Platform” to the Coalition of Ukrainian business associations. Previously, it was agreed that “NORT” will be responsible for KPIs (performance) on the development of the website and Facebook page online. We coped with this task, sowe are happy that the web portal was handed over to the Coalition, which plans to merge the actions of NGOs and unions dealing with SMEs.
Together we can do much more than working without coordination. Actually, the “National SME platform” as well as “North” represent small and medium business interests. Together we succeed to hold a conference in February 2017. Very painful entrepreneurs’ questions were put, and with joint efforts we do our best to solve them for the benefit of business.
So we are always open to cooperation!